Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, both in terms of speakers and the number of countries where it's the dominant language. Spanish is the mother tongue of some 320 million people scattered throughout the world – in the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, in parts of Morocco and the west coast of Africa.

It is the official language of all the South American republics, with the exception of Brazil and Guyana. Naturally, there are many variations spoken throughout the world. In fact the differences between Castilian-Spanish and Latin American-Spanish are equivalent to those between British-English and American-English.

The Spanish vocabulary is of Latin origin, though many of the words differ markedly from their counterparts in French and Italian. Prolonged contact with Germanic and later Arabic affected its evolution but did not risk the decrease in Romance speaking. Germanic and Arabic have left their mark on the Spanish language as words like 'guerra' – war and 'algebra' – maths can both be traced back to their respective Germanic and Arabic origins.